Books by William R. Trotter

William R. (Bill) Trotter wrote his first novel (not publishable, of course, but a senior editor at Viking Press liked it well enough to become a valued mentor over the next ten years) at the age of fourteen and hasn’t looked back in all the forty-five ye

THE FIRES OF PRIDE by William R. Trotter
Released: March 1, 2004

"Excessive, obsessive, overlong but filled with moments of grandeur, insight, tearful tragedy, and rousing derring-do: War and Peace, American style."
A long, exhausting but worthy conclusion to The Sands of Pride (2002), following the roles of more than fifty historical and fictional characters depicting North Carolina's role in the Civil War. Read full book review >
THE SANDS OF PRIDE by William R. Trotter
Released: May 24, 2002

"A success both as guts-and-glory melodrama and as a collection of eye-opening true stories from the Civil War."
Monumental, bombs-bursting-in-air epic of nearly 50 characters who fight, steal, seduce, scheme, and have the time of their lives in and around Civil War-era North Carolina. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 15, 1995

A first-rate biographical study of one of the century's more important conductors, Dimitri Mitropoulos (18961960). Based on the research of late musicologist Oliver Daniel, music critic Trotter has created a comprehensive and neatly written portrait of Mitropoulos, whom he correctly calls the ``Forgotten Giant.'' Tracing his life from student days in Greece to his mature artistic career spent primarily in America (a decade in Minneapolis, where he created an ensemble competitive with the top US orchestras, followed in the 1950s by the music directorship of the New York Philharmonic), Trotter emphasizes that Mitropoulos approached music-making with the self-denying religious fervor that almost had led him as a young man to take a monk's vows. This otherworldly attitude may explain the genuinely tragic circumstances of Mitropoulos's later years: his relative lack of pretense about his own homosexuality at a time when other gay conductors advanced their careers (sometimes at Mitropoulos's expense) by remaining in the closet; his remaining in America instead of returning to Europe, where he was idolized, on the grounds that he could fulfill his missionary service to serious music better in the New World; his carelessness about his health, which led to his premature death of a massive coronary while rehearsing the La Scala Philharmonic in Mahler's Third Symphony. None of this is simple, and with the notable exception of Trotter's overemphasis on the effects of Howard Taubman's New York Times criticismreminiscent of the ``critics killed John Keats'' school of biographyhe avoids many of the potholes of oversimplification. Since Mitropoulos is an elusive conductor on disc, good hints toward a basic discography are included. Humanizing, a valuable panorama of US classical music culture, and an irresistible inducement to seek out the Mitropoulos performances left to us on records. (66 b&w photos, not seen) Read full book review >
WINTER FIRE by William R. Trotter
Released: Feb. 18, 1993

A passionate tale of deep, mysterious Finland forests and complex moods in the music of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, ably set in the fire and ice of WW II by historian/first-novelist Trotter (A Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-40— not reviewed). Erich Ziegler, a promising young conductor whose career is interrupted by the Nazification of Germany's musical culture, first experiences the war on the frozen tundra near Murmansk. Rescued by his classical background from the front lines, he's drafted into military intelligence and sent to ferret out information from Finnish troops in the guise of a Wehrmacht liaison officer, but a chance sighting of Sibelius en route to his post quickly leads to friendship with the aging recluse. As a member of the composer's inner circle, Erich falls in love with a beautiful, enigmatic woman who is Sibelius's servant but whose forest ties have given her unusual abilities. The couple's relationship is interrupted when Erich allows pride to cloud his judgment during a command orchestra performance for Hitler, committing an act of defiance that lands him on the Russian front. There, he suffers severe shock from the battle conditions and is hospitalized, eventually returning to Finland at Sibelius's request. Although frustrated by the composer's refusal to acknowledge the existence of his long-awaited Eighth Symphony, Erich still prospers as his protÇgÇ; and after barely surviving the all-out Soviet assault on Finnish positions, he returns to the maestro's retreat to be given a solo performance of the work by the composer himself. But brutalized by the war and convinced that the score is about to be destroyed, he betrays both his host and the love of his forest maiden, running away to meet a tragic fate. Excessively melodramatic on occasion, but still a stunning evocation of Finnish landscapes, myth, and music, while the desperate conditions under which war was waged in northern Europe are brought savagely to life. Read full book review >